Solid building activity ‘on an upward trend’


New $1.8 billion hospital continues to drive Sunshine Coast market
Dwelling approvals are up almost 25% – Paul Bidwell

By Erle Levey


Latest Queensland regional building approvals figures and housing finance figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics have continued their positive upward trend during August.

Among the strongest performing regions is the Sunshine Coast, up 6.3% for August and 63% for the past 12 months.

The Gold Coast, Wide Bay and Greater Brisbane also showed continued growth for August and the year.

Yet Master Builders warns that potential actions by financial regulators to curb lending could put this improvement in jeopardy. Master Builders’ deputy executive director, Paul Bidwell, said that while building approvals were volatile when making a month-on-month comparison, it was the 12 months to August 2014 that told a positive story for building.

“For the 12 months to August, total dwelling approvals are up almost 25% compared to the previous 12 months,” Mr Bidwell said. “Housing finance numbers tell a similar story, increasing by 2.3% in August.”

While the news for Queensland was broadly positive, feedback from Master Builders’ members suggests that south-east Queensland continues to drive the improvement, with some of the regions remaining patchy.

“The resource regions of Mackay and Central Queensland are struggling, although some may say that for these areas this is simply a return to more realistic activity levels,” Mr Bidwell added. “Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Far North Queensland all reported solid gains over the 12 months, with Darling Downs and south-west Queensland and Wide Bay also performing well.”

Yes Master Builders remains concerned about the reserve bank’s comments on whether there is a need for action to deal with the surge in Sydney and Melbourne house prices.

Mr Bidwell added that any broad-brush response would be disastrous for the Queensland industry, particularly in the regions. “It would really take the wind out of our sails and dampen what is presently a very encouraging improvement,” he said.

Master Builders’ Sunshine Coast regional manager, Michael Hopkins, welcomed another strong month for building approvals. “There were 321 building approvals recorded for the month of August, with both housing and multi-residential approvals showing strong growth,” he said.

Mr Hopkins said the improvement in building approvals was a result of strong fundamentals, including low interest rates, healthy population and employment growth. “Increased building activity will flow through to other parts of the regional economy and ultimately assist more Sunshine Coast residents to gain or maintain employment,” he said.

While the Sunshine Coast saw 6.3% growth in August, Wide Bay led the way with 20.5% and Gold coast 13%.

Drivers of the Sunshine Coast building and construction industry are headed by the $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital, due for completion in December 2016.

Work has started on the 3.7ha Bunnings Hardware site on Dalton Drive, Maroochydore. The purpose-built flagship store is being developed by Victorian-based building company H. Troon Pty Ltd, which has completed the design and construction of more than 35 new Bunnings stores in Australia.

Newmark Capital bought the site this year from Bunnings for a reported $42 million. The hardware store and additional retail shops are expected to be completed in August 2015.

Stockland recently received development approval for a 334-lot extension to its Bells Reach community at Caloundra South and it plans to start construction before the end of this year.

Halcyon Landing over 50’s community at Bli Bli is verging on a sell-out, with just six homes left for sale in the $90 million project.

Sunshine Coast Daily October 18, 2014

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